Ankita Lokhande might have just kickstarted her Bollywood career, but she is not a person who will follow others. She is a leader. After bagging all the top awards in the Television space, she’s come to Bollywood to make her mark. And in her debut film, Manikarnika, she did just that! Despite a long gap between her TV show Pavitra Rishta, and her debut film, Ankita is still hopeful of making it big in Bollywood. In a candid conversation with us, she reveals that she is not here to run after work, but to do quality work.
From Pavitra Rishta to Manikarnika, tell us about your experiences as an actor.
It’s been a great journey. Since childhood, I always wanted to come to Mumbai and be an actress. But belonging to a middle-class family, you do not get the opportunity to do what you feel like. Still, I came to Mumbai and started doing Pavitra Rishta. At that time, I didn’t know how to act, that was my first show. I wanted to be an actress, but I’d never acted. I’ve always been a dancer, I loved dancing. So, doing a TV show was very difficult, especially because it was full of drama and you had to be on the sets all the time.
In fact, more than me, my mom wondered if I could pull off the quiet and sensible character of Archana. My mom thought I was not the one. She was really nervous, but I reassured her that I could do it. With Pavitra Rishta, I learnt a lot about acting. There were so many senior actors, like Usha Nadkarni, Savita Prabhune who played my aai (mother) in the serial, my baba in the serial, so I got to learn from them. I was not an actor, but when I started learning things, it was a big change in my career, because the more you learn from seeing, the better experience you have. That was the only TV serial I did.
Then I got Manikarnika and it was a very different experience for me because it was my first film, and I was nervous about the whole thing. But I didn’t think about how films work. As an actor, you do whatever it takes, and I never thought that there was a difference in acting for a TV serial and acting for a movie. Whatever I learnt, I learnt everything from television, and I am very proud to say this. And that’s why I could do whatever I did and make it in Manikarnika. When I joined the team, I was very nervous, especially on the first day. But I thought I had to be myself and just act, like I did for television scenes.
I used to prepare there in one minute, but here, I got many days to prepare. Earlier, playing Archana, a stable woman, brought a change in me. So, when I started doing the characterisation and preparation for Jhalkaribai, that brought in a lot of changes in me too. She was a warrior and fought for her country, and it was a change for me. Ankita Lokhande learnt a lot from Jhalkaribai. So, my acting career has been superb so far. Now I am looking forward to good scripts, and playing good characters like Jhalkaribai.
There was a huge time gap between Pavitra Rishta and Manikarnika. Fans have been dying to see you on the big screen. Was it challenging to get work? Did you ever doubt yourself?
No, I’ve never doubted myself or my talent. I am very chilled out. In fact, I don’t run after things. I do things if I feel they are right! I’m not someone who sees someone do something and follows them blindly. I take my time for everything, that’s why I took Manikarnika after a long time. It is not that I didn’t get offers, I was getting a lot of offers. But I chose this because I found something of myself in it. I found something good for me, so I took that role. Whoever wanted to doubt me, were free to do so, I was okay with what I had.
How do you go about choosing projects?
I go with the character. I see what I am doing in the film, that’s very important for me. The character should be visible. When I chose Jhalkari, it clicked in my mind that I want to do this character. You don’t get an opportunity to do something like this in your debut film. You don’t get an opportunity to shoot for a war sequence, a romantic sequence and everything else in your first film. In Manikarnika, I did everything. So, I choose my scripts wisely, and I see what I have to do.
What kind of films do you want to do?
I want to do every kind of film because as an actor, you want to portray every kind of character. I want to work in all kinds of films and genres. People may not like me in different genres, but I’d love it. I love watching masala entertainers, so I want to do a film like Simmba. I want to play a character like Simmba, where I am the hero of a Rohit Shetty film. Or a Dabangg kind of role! I really loved Ranveer’s character in Simmba. Even when I went to watch the film, I was dancing. I saw people whistle for him. I want to do such a character where people whistle for me too.
As an outsider, has it been difficult?
I really don’t have an idea because I don’t think that way. Whatever I am getting, I give my best and in the end, it’s up to God and the people who are watching me. I’m not worried about things, I am very happy with whatever I am doing! I am not running after anything. I am not running after a position to take over from someone. If I do that, then it will be difficult for me. Right now, I am very content. Whether it is Manikarnika or any other film, I want to be like this forever.
Having worked with Kangana Ranaut, how would you rate her as an actor and as a director?
As an actor she is brilliant, she is an inspiration to all the women out there. This is because whatever she is, she has done it all on her own. She is standing tall. Every girl wants to be like her, I want to become like her. She was very supportive on the sets. We used to sit together and chat on several topics. So, it was a friendly bond that we built. As a director, she directed a couple of my scenes and she was very good. It is very nice that she made her directorial debut with us.
Who do you look up to in the industry? Who do you go to for advice?
I love Madhuri Dixit. I’ve seen her since I was a child and I want to become just like her. That’s the only thing I wish right now. I’ve always looked up to Madhuri Ma’am. She was there with me in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, and she judged me on the show. I love Madhuri Ma’am. I don’t know anyone in this industry as yet, so I don’t take anyone’s advice. So who would I go to for advice, I don’t know.
Do you think you need a Godfather in the industry to thrive?
No, I think you need to have God with you. I have God on my side, so I don’t have anything to worry about.
You had a very public breakup with Sushant Singh Rajput. But he made some nice comments on your first look from Manikarnika. Two years later, how’s the equation between you two?
He tweeted and I messaged him back, that’s the only equation that we share now.
Are you open to movies as well as TV and the web-space? Or are you more focused on acting in Bollywood?
I am open to doing everything. I’ve not closed my doors to TV or web-series. It’s just that I’m getting opportunities here in movies, so I’m working here. TV is open for me, TV is my thing. It’s like coming back home. But I am here doing films now, and with the opportunities here, why not grow? As an actor, I am learning so many things, about new cameras, new people, that’s been a good experience. If I get a good project on TV, I’ll definitely take it up.
But I’ve worked in television for six years, so now I feel I am done, because you have to go daily and do the same thing. And you don’t get time for yourself. It’s not the same in films. I am a very lazy person. After Pavitra Rishta too, I took breaks. Now it’s not possible as such. But you do a film for three months, then there is a break, and you can go on a vacation and all. Here, you get some time at least.
You will hear something really interesting pretty soon.